Oh, the 2014 Holiday Gift Guide. It’s a fun issue to put together; I really enjoy seeing what the columnists give us for wish lists and must-haves. There is so much to find out there, so much to see, for different price ranges and interests. And, to cap off a wonderful inaugural year of introducing Lav.fash to the consumers of Lavender Media (both magazine and online), we have a wonderful 14-page section of fashion and style for you, in time for the holidays and new year. I want to personally congratulate and thank Justin Jones and Brandon McCray for not only conceptualizing but also executing a whole new style and fashion section for us, bringing in tremendous talent like Kyle Lieberman as photographer and Hollie Mae Schultz as subject and collaborator. They have developed their presence through the year and have polished their product with aplomb. I can’t see what next year holds for Lav.fash.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Always. Still. As usual. It’s how I operate, particularly during the holidays. There are people to see, events to enjoy, dishes to cook, presents to wrap. Our Editorial Calendar Year (ECY2014) is coming to a close and I’m looking at ECY2015 as being yet another one of growth and greatness. It’s a bit of anticipation to add to the chaos.
One of my usual cries for help when I’m frazzled is, “Send pastries.” Like the Bat Signal, I send it up when I really need to acknowledge that things are a bit crazy. Or, like a big WARNING sign, it’s a way to tell people to just stay away from me while I get things under control. Rarely does it actually result in someone sending me pastries, but it has actually happened, just as if Santa had beat up Krampus. The holidays tend to be stressful, whether self-imposed or not. So, I take matters into my own hands and make my own damn pastry. And it is glorious.
What pastry? I make my Great Grandma Bergquist’s Swedish Kringla.
I have the recipe committed to memory, but I still open the Dassel Home Circle Cookbook, first published in 1960, for Grandma B’s words (though they were attributed to Mrs. Arvid Bergquist instead of Sara Bergquist, before rural feminism). It’s a ritual. And, about whether it’s “Kringla,” “Kringle,” or “Kringler,” I don’t care. I’m sure there are cultural implications about one being Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, or “other,” but I still don’t care. If Sara says it’s Kringla, it’s Kringla.
In a nutshell, this version of Kringla is basically a choux pastry puff on pie crust slathered in icing. Simple, huh? If not, feel free to find this article on the Lavender website for step-by-step photos. Be sure to send up the Pastries Signal if you get stuck.
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Butter
1 T Water
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Flour
1/2 t Almond Extract
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1 T Butter
1/2 t Almond Extract
2 T Half & Half (or Milk…something
creamy that makes it more spreadable)
Put all of the crust ingredients in a small bowl. Sara’s directions say to make it like a pie crust…this means that you should cut the (really cold) butter into the flour and add the (ice cold) water slowly as it’s needed. I decided not to follow Sara’s directions entirely and used room temperature butter and threw the water in right away. Rebel. I use a pastry cutter to mix it together, but two knives held with a fingertip between them could do the trick, too. Or a fork. Or a food processor. See? We kind of fudge the rules these days and it all usually turns out just fine.
Mix together the crust ingredients and split the dough in half, rolling each half into a ball.
One ball at a time, press the dough into two strips that are about 12″ x 3″ on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Set it aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put the water and butter in a medium saucepan over HI heat.
While waiting for it to come to a boil, get the rest of the ingredients for the pastry out and ready to go, including a spatula and an electric beater.
As soon as the water and butter start to boil, pull the pan off the burner and immediately throw in the cup of pre-scooped flour. Mix with a spatula until flour is incorporated.
Add the first egg and use the beaters to blend. Add second egg and use beaters to blend. Add third egg and use beaters to blend. Add almond extract and use beaters to blend. This entire add/blend process might take about a minute or two.
Take the spatula and split pastry batter in half. Scoop the first half onto one of the crust strips and spread it out. Try not to leave too many peaks or valleys as that’s how choux pastry tends to bake…what started as a sharp little peak will remain one, albeit brown and a little too crispy. The point is to place the pastry on top of the crust, not to cover the crust in pastry like frosting. Get the difference? Like how the creamy middle of an OREO sits on the chocolate cookie without completely covering it. Do the same with the second half of pastry.
Place sheet in oven and set timer for 55 minutes.
Check in on the baking pastry…it should puff up and be unattractive like brown crusty pillows. Don’t worry–it needs to puff to cook the egg mixture inside. It’ll calm down.
While the pastry is baking, make the frosting. As you’re doing it, it may not seem like it’s making much…but believe me, the flavor packs a wallop.
Throw all of the ingredients into a bowl and blend with the electric mixer. Scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure it’s all blended in and scoop your finger in for a taste. Yum. Almond joy.
After you take out the pastry, let it sit for 5-10 minutes before spreading on the frosting. Then, spread half the frosting on one, the other half on the other. Sprinkle some sliced almonds on each, I used about 1/4 cup for each Kringla.
Cut your Kringla into slices at an angle…or straight across, whichever you prefer. Leave them as larger, longer pieces or cut them in half to be more the size of bars. I recommend eating the batch within a day or so as (even in an airtight container) the icing tends to harden and then seep liquid after a while. Plus, warm pastry atop a buttery flaky crust smeared in almond icing deserves to be consumed while at its best. Fresh.
Enjoy the holiday season, enjoy each other. Enjoy the pastry.
With you and with thanks,